It’s safe to say that many of us take the power of eSignatures for granted. But it wasn’t all that long ago that eSignature laws were first introduced and — even more recently — standardized across European countries.
The acceptance and regulation of eSignatures around the world have expanded the horizon for businesses, especially those that work and negotiate frequently with international partners and clients.
Today, it’s more important than ever to know how eSignatures are handled in the countries you do business with and if there are any processes or challenges of which you need to be aware.
While many countries have their own set of eSignature laws and regulations in place, some are also governed by international laws.
For instance, in Denmark, eSignatures are governed by both Danish and European Union (EU) regulations.
If you conduct business in Denmark or other parts of Europe, you likely have questions about how eSignature laws impact your business. In that case, you’re in the right place. This guide will introduce you to key Danish eSignature laws and regulations you should know about.
Are eSignatures Legal in Denmark? Here’s What the Law Says
If you’re wondering whether electronic signatures are legal in Denmark, the short answer is yes.
Electronic signatures are court-admissible in Denmark and appropriate for nearly every business agreement.
According to Danish law, “wet ink” signatures are not required for contracts to be legally valid. As long as both parties reach a valid agreement, their contract will likely be considered legally binding — whether it’s verbal, written, or electronic.
If the agreement is ever challenged in court, however, there may be an obligation for one or both parties to provide additional proof of contract. In this case, using a modern eSignature tool like Dropbox Sign makes it easy to provide the necessary evidence.
Of course, eSignature laws can hold important nuances that businesses should be aware of before entering into a legal agreement. To answer the rest of your questions about electronic signature use in Denmark, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the details of Danish eSignature law.
A Brief History of eSignature Law in Denmark
The earliest draft of Danish eSignature law was written in 1996 and revised in 1998.
However, due to delays caused by the lengthy review process (which encompassed the entire Danish legislation — including updates to thousands of rules, regulations, and formal requirements already in place for handwritten signatures), the proposed bill was never implemented.
Instead, Denmark’s plans to regulate eSignatures were outpaced by the EU.
The Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC
In December 1999, the European Parliament issued a legal framework for regulating eSignatures across Europe. The Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC set out regulations for eSignature acceptance and approval. However, it was still up to individual member states to implement those regulations with local legislation.
As a member of the EU, Denmark responded by introducing the Danish Act on Electronic Signatures (Lov om elektroniske signaturer), nr. 417 of 31 May 2000 (or “the Danish Act”).
Both the EU-wide directive and the Danish Act introduced guidelines for eSignatures, including principles for electronic signature approval and certificates for advanced signatures required in select circumstances.
Because 28 member states were each creating their own sets of laws, the regulations outlined in the 1999 directive were not implemented consistently. The lack of uniform regulations meant there were still different requirements and rules for eSignatures across Europe, which made it difficult to conduct business between countries. Furthermore, the 1999 regulations were becoming increasingly outdated as technology rapidly evolved over the next decade. So while the goal was to streamline eSignature use across Europe, the Electronic Signature Directive fell short on several accounts. However, the EU still wanted to create a legal framework that would modernize and standardize eSignature regulations across member states and truly simplify cross-border commerce.
Regulation No. 910/2014 on Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions in the Internal Market
In 2014, the EU introduced a new eSignature regulation to replace the Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC.
Regulation No. 910/2014 on Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions in the Internal Market — better known as eIDAS — provides eSignature guidelines that Denmark, along with the rest of the EU, still follows today.
Under the eIDAS regulations implemented in 2016, the rules for electronic signatures are now standardized across all 27 of the EU’s member states.
Where the Electronic Signature Directive left room for inconsistencies and interpretation by individual countries, eIDAS streamlined laws and clarified how eSignatures can be used and approved. For instance, eIDAS supports technological neutrality. This allows any eSignature, regardless of how it was created, to be considered equal to a handwritten signature as long as it fulfills any verifying requirements set by the legislator.
Not only did this simplify business transactions between EU states, but by improving and clarifying European regulations across the board, eIDAS also made it easier to conduct business with non-member countries.
In addition to standardizing eSignature regulations across Europe, one of the most important aspects of eIDAS is the recognition and regulation of three distinct types of eSignatures.
Types of eSignatures Recognized in Denmark
Under eIDAS, there are three types of eSignatures recognized in Denmark and across the EU. Each type is most suited to certain types of contracts. In order to ensure your agreement is legally binding, it’s important to choose the most appropriate type of eSignature for your circumstance.
1. Standard Electronic Signatures (SES)
A standard electronic signature (SES) is the simplest type of eSignature recognized under eIDAS. An SES can take many forms — from a typed or scanned signature to a tick box or button that says “I agree” under a list of terms and conditions.
With an SES, it can be tricky to verify who actually signed a document. However, this depends on format and implementation. An SES is still appropriate for many contracts and business agreements, especially if you use a product like Dropbox Sign to create a secure eSignature.
Use cases: A standard electronic signature (SES) can be used in a wide range of business transactions; including the signing of HR documents, employment contracts, NDAs, sales agreements, invoices, loans, short-term leases, and commercial real estate agreements.
2. Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES)
An Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) is a secure type of eSignature that involves extra requirements to help prevent forgery and validate the identity of the person signing.
An AES is linked to identifying data and can only be created using an approved signature creation device or process connected to the signatory.
Use cases: An Advanced Electronic Signature is often preferred (and sometimes required) for legal documents.
3. Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES)
The most secure type of eSignature recognized across Europe, a qualified electronic signature (QES) is legally recognized as equivalent to a handwritten signature in most cases.
A QES follows stricter regulations than both SES and AES. More specifically, a QES meets the same requirements as an AES, but with the additional security of government certification.
A QES can only be created using a secure signature creation device and must be verified with an electronic signing certificate issued by a government-recognized qualified Trust Service Provider.
Use cases: A QES is usually required when signing wills, notarized documents, termination notices, and certain property transfer contracts.
Create Secure Agreements with the Right eSignature Platform
The ability to sign documents virtually from anywhere in the world has unlocked heaps of new business opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. As technology continues to advance and international laws adapt, eSignatures have become the new standard for signing digital documents.
Whether you’re working with organizations in another city, state, or country; you can make your agreement more secure by signing with a modern eSignature platform.
No matter where your business is located or where it takes you, Dropbox Sign is a convenient and easy-to-use tool that helps you keep your business — and your customers — safe and secure.
Sign up for your free trial of Dropbox Sign’s eSignature platform and start creating secure agreements today!
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Since laws and regulations governing eSignatures may be frequently updated, Dropbox Sign does not guarantee all the information on its site is up-to-date or accurate. If you have legal questions about the content on this site, or about whether Dropbox Sign’s solutions fit your needs, please seek professional legal advice from a licensed attorney in your region.